Franzen & Ericsson in; Mursak & Kindl out

Per Ansar Khan, both Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson are healthy enough to return to action tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Franzen had missed the previous five with back spasms. Ericsson has missed 13 since fracturing his wrist against Colorado on February 25th.

Jakub Kindl will be a healthy scratch (remember those?) on the blueline, while Jan Mursak will sit out. That means that Gustav Nyquist has proven himself too valuable to be taken out of the lineup. Duh. Now, we’ve just gotta get him on a line where he’ll continue to be a force…

Your only remaining injuries are Patrick Eaves (post-concussion, likely shut down for the year), Joey MacDonald (back spasms, no timetable), Darren Helm (sprained MCL, out until the playoffs), and Jimmy Howard. Howard had Friday circled on his calendar as the day he’d be returning, but Coach Babcock said if he couldn’t play tonight, he won’t play Friday — likely to keep him out of harm’s way against the likely first round opponent. No one needs the Predators taking a run at Howard, knowing that they’d immediately have the upper hand in that playoff matchup should he be re-injured. He’ll likely play Sunday against Florida.

If Howard plays the final four games of the season, as I’m sure is the plan, he will have played in only twelve games over the final thirty of the season. Not ideal.

Tonight’s lineup:

Valtteri Filppula :: Henrik Zetterberg :: Jiri Hudler
Johan Franzen :: Pavel Datsyuk :: Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller :: Justin Abdelkader :: Dan Cleary
Tomas Holmstrom :: Cory Emmerton :: Gustav Nyquist

Nicklas Lidstrom :: Ian White
Brad Stuart :: Niklas Kronwall
Kyle Quincey :: Jonathan Ericsson

Ty Conklin
Jordan Pearce